Small chance of vaccine by Christmas says head of Oxford/AstraZeneca trial

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There is a small chance a vaccine for coronavirus might be available by Christmas, the head of the group developing a jab at Oxford university told MPs today.

Speaking to Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee Andrew Pollard said that with the number of vaccines under development it was possible one might be approved by then.

Pollard is the chief trial investigator for the vaccine being developed by Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) and he said he was optimistic that some results on whether its vaccine works would be available by the end of the year.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca collaboration is currently going through a final-stage clinical trial and is seen as one of the front runners in the vaccine race alongside a development by US pharma Pfizer and German group BioNtech.

Nine vaccines worldwide are currently in the clinical stage phase, but those two are seen as the most promising. All told, there are more than 200 potential vaccines under development.

Reports yesterday suggested the GPs had been told to prepare to administer a COVID-19 vaccine before Christmas.

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens confirmed this morning to the BBC that he had written to surgeries telling them to be prepared if a vaccine does become available.

This would initially be frontline NHS staff and those over 80 years old, according to the report.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has said that a vaccine might be available in the first quarter of 2021.

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